By the Shores of Solon Pond (7)

Waldo’s embarrassment at Christmas (novel excerpt)

Although Waldo tried to ignore it, he dreaded the embarrassment this Christmas of not having joined Amy and Lucian at school after he’d talked so much about it. He imagined he might explain to them how sick Dan was and how he had heroically stepped in to chop wood for his brother’s sake—yet he knew how it would seem. How he really felt about it could not be hidden. There was still the possibility, with Dan seeming healthier, that Waldo might make the winter term in January, but he determined not to speak of it to his cousins this time.

“Shove over, dreamer,” Dan said now as he tied his crimson cravat before the mirror as if he were a true gentleman. He was, by far, the tallest and most refined of the Potter men. The ridiculous cravat suited him as it would have none other.

Waldo and Bertie exchanged annoyed looks. Somehow, Dan always got little luxuries for himself. Waldo, when he worked, could not fathom keeping money back for fear of his father, yet he had never heard his father take Dan to task over these flagrant displays of theft.

And these weren’t the only displays of theft—and bravery—in the face of the community. Dan had always borrowed excellent horses from his uncles on the Potter side. He disdained the Fosters because his father did, though the Fosters had a Revolutionary history he could be quite proud of. He rode with an abandon that Waldo envied as he watched him race around the pond, almost as acrobatic as the Zouaves. Dan had wit, intelligence and a heady dose of snobbery, but not a soul disliked him for it. He seemed to reflect some hidden hopes of their own.

He flouted the disdain he had for his father as he came and went, and Joel inexplicably allowed it. Once Waldo had read a letter his mother had left on the table half-written to her sister, Aunt Abby Ann. Waldo noted that three-fourths of the scribbled lines were about sending Dan to an academy with funds she hoped Aunt Abby and her husband would send. Only one line had been written about Waldo and Albertus growing out of their boots and moccasins long before the cobbler was to come by.

Waldo was a little jealous but happy. Happy that it was Christmas, and that Dan was well and there would be food, bright lights and singing. Joel called from outside. The horse was lame, so they would have to walk in the gloaming across the snow dusted fields, but none of them minded.

Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek at my current work in progress about a New York farmer boy who goes to war to keep his family’s farm afloat.

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